If you’ve never attended the Musikmesse & ProLight & Sound trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, you are certain to find it astounding, just due to the sheer size and scope. The show is comprised of multiple buildings, some the size of commercial airline hangers, moving walkways, and literally miles of aisles of exhibitors, which makes this conference the largest music industry gathering in the world, drawing visitors from 119 countries.
In mid-March, just as the Euro was facing great pressure in the currency exchange markets due to the financial meltdown in Greece, this year’s show was just starting. Despite the continuing, although shifting, concerns about the world economy, exhibitors and attendees at this year’s Musikmesse and ProLight & Sound show appeared to share a cautious optimism for the year ahead. According to the Musikmesse management, this year’s gathering counted over 79,000 visitors and 1,510 exhibitors from around the globe, which, “exceeded our expectations and further consolidated our position as the leading international trade fair,” according to Detlef Braun, member of the Messe Frankfurt board of management. These numbers did represent a slight increase compared to last year (78,847 attendees), but considering the economic struggles of most nations, it showed a certain stability and determination by the industry to persevere and perhaps put the worst of the crisis behind us. Several US exhibitors that showed in previous years were absent, but those that did exhibit indicated that some of their international distributors didn’t attend this year, particularly some from regions that are still encountering difficult economic conditions.
Rick Drumm, president of D’Addario USA, looks for “the attitudes of international distributors to help determine the direction of the business, and at this year’s show they appeared more positive than last year.” Bernd Vincent Walbaum, general manager of C.F. Peters Musikverlag, a publishing company and Musikmesse exhibitor for many years stated that, “The situation has stabilized in comparison to previous years. For us, this is very important because the market is still very troubled…Taking part in the fair is ideal for companies with an international orientation.” Harvey Levy of Levy’s Leathers said, “We were very pleased with the number of visitors to our stands, and we met many important visitors and the overall visitor standard was very high.”
The return of the piano hall was a positive note at the Messe. Last year, the exclusive hall for acoustic piano companies was noticeably absent, although a few select piano manufacturers did display in other halls at that time. A new hall called Piano Salon Europe in Forum 1, provided an exclusive setting for the European piano manufacturers, which included such notable names as Fazioli, Petrof, Schimmel, Seiler, August Forster, and many others.
The Consumer Day at the convention showed strong attendance as the virtually all of the halls bustled with budding musicians who were happy to try out instruments and equipment – sometimes at extreme levels. Very young children were also able to be involved at the fair in the Music4kids participatory exhibition held annually at the Musikmesse. This year, over 8,000 children took part in music4kids, which gave them the chance to explore the world of music and sound in a playful and experimental way.